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Chicago Coin Club
Volume 48 No. 5 May 2002

Minutes of the 1000th Meeting

The historic 1000th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was called to order on April 6, 2002 at 1:05PM by President Carl Wolf. The meeting was held at the Holiday Inn O'Hare Hotel, Rosemont Illinois, in conjunction with the Chicago International Coin Fair. There were 80 attendees who signed the attendance ledger, including members and guests.

President Wolf advised those attendees who were not members but wished to be, that the club requires the applicant to be present for one of two required readings of the application for membership. Meetings at events such as the CICF offer numismatists from out of town who normally may not have an opportunity to attend a CCC meeting to apply for membership. He also urged all to remain for the entire presentation and noted that the traditional Club hand out on primitive money will be distributed free to all in attendance at the end of this session.

First Vice President Robert Feiler introduced the featured speaker Steve Album, of Santa Rosa California and his presentation The Development of Islamic Coinage, 650-1250 A.D.

The presentation began with the reign of the last Assyrian ruler and the first Islamic coinage in 698 AD. Coins were made of copper, silver and gold and generally carry an inscription that translates "In the name of God this Driham (or Dirhem) was struck in (city) in (date)". Steve outlined the extent of the uniform coinage that extended to Morocco, Spain, Yemen and Uzbekistan. During the 10th and 11th centuries Islamic coinage experienced the same silver depletion that was prevalent throughout Europe.

Establishing dates of Islamic coinage in the Gregorian calendar is slightly challenging. Dates on Islamic coinage are done in the Islamic calendar. This begins with the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. Additionally the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle and therefore 11 days shorter than a solar calendar.

There is a movement within the Islamic community to re-establish Islamic currency to be used by Islamic people of different nations. We can only speculate as to how this would work.

First Vice President Robert Feiler thanked Steve for his enlightening presentation and presented him with the Chicago Coin Club "Featured Speaker Award". Steve received a round of applause.

Mark Wieclaw, Chairman of the 1000th Meeting Committee announced to those in attendance the availability of the 1000th meeting commemorative medals. He also advised the evening's banquet activities. Mark also passed out a limited supply of elongated cents, commemorating the 1000th meeting.

Carl Wolf introduced Robert Leonard, author of this year's primitive money souvenir handout. Bob penned the article "Gold Dust Currency". The club tradition was continued by placing copy number 1 in the club archives, copy number 2 was awarded to the featured speaker Steve Album and copy number 3 to the author Robert Leonard. Copies were then distributed to those in attendance.

There were several applications for membership made. President Carl Wolf read the names of these new applicants who were in attendance:

With no other business remaining President Carl Wolf called for a motion to recess the meeting until the evening banquet. The motion was made seconded and passed. The meeting was recessed.

The Evening Session and 1000th Meeting Banquet

The historic 1000th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was reconvened on the evening of April 6, 2002 by President Carl Wolf. This portion of the meeting was also held at the Holiday Inn O'Hare Hotel, Rosemont Illinois. There were 66 attendees who signed the attendance ledger, including members and guests.

Carl Wolf gave a brief welcome to all in attendance. President Wolf noted that it was befitting that this occasion be attended by numismatists from many regions of the world. He noted the 1000th Meeting Committee was chaired by Mark Wieclaw and explained the various levels of involvement of club members and the significance of the ribbons associated with the name tags. Carl heralded the many aspects of numismatics. A collectors we often wear many hats. We are the curator, detective, teacher, cataloguer, etc. After thanking everyone for attending, he turned the program over to Mark Wieclaw, Chairman of the 1000th Meeting, who again welcomed all.

Mark asked First Vice President Robert Feiler to lead us in an invocation prior to our meal.

Mark Wieclaw introduced the club officers, President Carl Wolf, First Vice President Robert Feiler, Second Vice President Donald Dool and Secretary Treasurer Lyle Daly. He recognized board member Jeff Rosinia and then introduced the members of the 1000th Meeting Committee: William Burd, Robert Feiler, Reid Geisler, Kevin & Sharon Blocker, Mike Metras, Carl Wolf and Steve Zitowsky.

Recognized and present in the audience were past presidents Charles Ryant, Charles Ricard, Robert Leonard, Mark Weiclaw and Andrew Micheyta. Also present was Tillie Boosel, widow of past president Harry Boosel.

Recognized and present in the audience were Literary and Medal of Merit Recipients William Burd, David Simpson, Andrew Michyeta, Robert Leonard, Carl Wolf, Charles Ryant and Charles Ricard. Also present was Tillie Boosel, widow of past recipient Harry Boosel.

After the banquet meal, Robert Leonard introduced the featured speaker Dr. Ute Wartenberg and her presentation Owls to Athens - The Dollar of the Ancient World. Dr Wartenberg traced the factors leading to the relative consistency of the design on the Greek Tetradrachm while all other art forms within the archeological record show signs of artistic evolution.

First Vice President Robert Feiler awarded to Dr Wartenberg a personal copy of the 1000th meeting medal and a Chicago Coin Club Featured Speaker Medal.

Carl Wolf announced that there were two applications for membership to be read. Katie DiCosta and Andrius Plioplyos submitted applications for membership.

Carl Wolf and Mark Wieclaw asked both Dr Wartenberg, representing the American Numismatic Society, and ANA President John Wilson to come up to the podium. Both were asked to accept silver medals commemorating the 1000th meeting of the Chicago Coin Club for the cabinets of their organizations.

The following visiting dignitaries were recognized: Kerry Wetterstrom, Editor of the Celator; Kevin Foley, Chairman of the Chicago International Coin Fair; Harlan Berk, President of Professional Numismatists Guild.

Harlan Berk briefly commented on the heritage of the CCC, noting that it was the first numismatic club he was a member of. He joined in 1964 and remembered fondly the meetings at the Palmer House and the rewarding associations with members such as Harry Boosel, Arlie Slabaugh, Tom Ryan, Baker, Leonard Stark, Ben Dreiske, David Shapiro and many more.

ANA President John Wilson asked to have a moment and noted the Chicago Coin Club as a "pillar of strength in the numismatic community" and clubs such as ours, the "key to continued success of the numismatic society". President Wilson then asked Carl Wolf to approach the podium and accept on behalf of the CCC a Certificate of Appreciation from the ANA.

Bill Bright of Krause Publications accepted the podium and described to the audience the qualifications for the Numismatic Ambassador Award given each year by Krause Publications. He then announced this year's recipient, Dr Ute Wartenberg, who approached the stage to receive the award.

After wishing all in attendance a good night, President Carl Wolf, in an unprecedented deviation from Robert's Rules of order, DECLARED the 1000th meeting adjourned. There were no objections.

Respectfully submitted by Lyle Daly

Speaker's Wor[l]d
The Development of Islamic Coinage, 650-1250 AD

Presented by Steve Album to our April 6, 2002 meeting.

First V.P. Robert Feiler introduced Steve Album from Santa Rosa, CA and cited his forty-two years as a numismatist and the rewriting he did of Marsden's Numismata Orientalia Illustrata, a guide to Islamic and Oriental coins and their values. Mr. Album is currently a senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, England, where he has been working on publishing four volumes of Sylloge of Islamic Coins in the Ashmolean Museum.

Album pointed out that we do not talk about Christian or Jewish coins the same way as Islamic coins. The Muslims invented about 690-700 AD the term "Islamic coin." But the first Muslims who produced coins were those that conquered Iran in about 651-2 AD (regnal year 20 of the last Sasanian ruler in Iran) and were minted in Sijistan. On that coinage they decided to add the term bism Allah (In the name of God) and this then marks the beginning of Islamic coinage. But they didn't convert to a true Arabic/Islamic coinage for another forty-five years.

For these coins they imitated the Sasanian type for silver, imitated Byzantine coins for copper and occasionally for gold. Then in their calendar year 77 (698 AD) they produced a single type of coinage in gold, followed by silver in 78 and copper about 80. This was the first true Islamic coinage. There were no more imitations. It was pure Arabic with religious inscriptions, sometimes the name of the mint and the date, and without illustrations. From this point, Islamic silver and gold coinage is normally dated, unlike most coins in the other parts of the world. Their first copper coin reads la ilah illa Allah wahdahu (there is no diety but God; he is one) and Muhammad rasul Allah (Muhammad is the apostle of God). That is all it says, a statement that is known as the kalima, which is still in use in that exact form on some of today's coinage!

Both the gold and silver bear the same religious inscription but since the silver is larger it has a longer version of those inscriptions. The silver always has the mintmark, which was not something new to the coinage world, as it had been de rigeur in Iran for more than 200 years prior to the Muslim conquest. On these early coins the city name appeared not just an initial that we see in the West and on most of the earlier Iranian coins. This practice was discontinued recently. Now there is talk in the Middle East to return to the original silver, gold and copper coinage designs that were struck in the early days of Islam from 698 AD.

The Islamic dynasty that ruled as the Caliphs was based in Damascus and was ousted in 132 (749-50 AD). During their rule the entire Islamic world from Central Asia to Spain to Morocco and Yemen issued identical coins except for the year or the mint. In 750 AD a new dynasty took over called the Abbasids, who ruled for over 500 years. During their reign there was a gradually growing change in coinage with many types issued. By year 200 (815 AD) different mints were producing different coins. The early Abbasids maintained careful weights for the silver and gold and as their Caliphs became less and less powerful, new independent kingdoms emerged and issued their own coinage. The best known of these was Harun al-Rashid (170-193, AD 786-809), the Caliph associated with Tales of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

The Abbasids didn't put their own name on the coins. We don't know why but the Caliph at first put the name of his "heir apparent" on the coinage. Thereafter, a few mints began to put the local governor's name and the person in charge of the mint on the coins. On the silver coins dated from year 132 to the death of the last son of Harun in year 218 (about 85 years) approximately the names of 150 governors appear on the coinage; many more names appear on copper coins. In the year 219/834 Harun's grandson al-Mu`tasim puts his name on the coinage and forbids the governors from adding their names.

In those areas that fell out of the control of the Abbasids, the coinage became very complex. This was especially true around year 400 (1000 AD), by which time more than thirty different Islamic kingdoms were producing all kinds of different coins, in a wide variety of metals and weights. It became even more complex the next hundred years when the Turkish Seljuqs took over the eastern half of the Islamic world. In the central Asian Turkish kingdom under the Qarakhanid dynasty, their main city was Samarkand (Samarqand in present day Uzbekistan). They issued a coinage with over 1000 different names appearing over 200 years! Historians have no idea who these people were and sometimes as many as five names appear from the same mint in the same year.

Album felt much of this was a result of a worldwide lack of quality silver during the 10th and 11th centuries. No one knows exactly why, but England was the only country in this time to maintain a fine silver coinage of accurate fixed weight.

Muslims were great recorders of history beginning within fifty years of Muhammad's death in late 7th century AD. Books within 150 years of his death survive to this day. Then for the next 150 years they write tremendous volumes and hundreds have survived. The most famous was composed about year 310-315 (925 AD) by al-Tabari that has been translated over the last twenty years into English in 39 volumes by the State University of New York. Modern publications of most of the books on the early Islamic years are available in university libraries.

Year 1 in the Islamic year begins when Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina. He died in year 11 that was 633 AD. Arabic dating is based on a lunar year, not a solar year. Their current year is 1423. This conversion process is one of the more complicated aspects of collecting Islamic coins; whereas the Christian year is 365 or 366 days long, the Muslim year is a lunar year of about 354 days.

When asked if there are any coins before Muhammad written in Arabic script, Album cited the coins of the dependent kingdom of the Nepoteens. They used an Aramaic script that was a similar and related language.

Carl Wolf

Speaker's Wor[l]d
Owls to Athens - The Dollar of the Ancient World

Presented by Dr. Ute Wartenberg to our April 6, 2002 meeting.

Club member and American Numismatic Society (ANS) Fellow, Robert D. Leonard, Jr., introduced Dr. Ute Wartenberg, Executive Director of the ANS. Among her many accomplishments Leonard cited a Rhodes scholarship, a Ph.D. in classical literature and Assistant Keeper and Curator of Greek coins at the British Museum.

Dr. Wartenberg congratulated the Chicago Coin Club (CCC) on its 1000th meeting and conveyed the best wishes from the ANS staff and officers.

In her opening remarks, Wartenberg remarked how fitting it was to speak on the most popular coin in antiquity and the symbol of the 1000th meeting medal of the CCC. She remarked that whenever she introduces herself as an ancient numismatist, oftentimes people respond that they have a coin with an owl on it. Of course, they're referring to this Athenian coin and she went on to say that her talk would focus on how this coin became so incredibly popular and famous.

Athens, which was by the end of the fifth century BC to become one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean, and several other Greek cities were involved in a war with the world's most powerful empire, Persia, under King Darius I. He dominated his empire from his home in modern-day Iraq. The Greeks were well aware that he maintained a lavish court that was financed through an elaborate system of duties, taxes and tributes. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persia Empire almost 150 years later, their staggering wealth became known and was reported to be 400,000 talents or 600 million tetradrachms!

The Persians advanced on the Greeks in the summer of 490 BC and were confronted at Marathon. Even though they faced a superior force, the Athenian Greeks won a crucial victory. Ten years later, in 480 BC the Persians made another attempt to conquer mainland Greece and managed even to ransack Athens before the Greek forces defeated the invaders at Plataia in 479 BC.

With the departure of the invading army, the Greeks set up a treasury to fund future defensive actions. All the cities paid tribute into the fund that was based on the island of Delos. Soon the league turned into an empire dominated by Athens and every city was assessed according to their wealth. If Greek historians of that period are to be believed, then the annual amount raised to be 600 talents of silver. Many Greek cities were issuing their own coinage and no doubt used it to pay their tribute. Eventually, most of these coins would be melted and reissued as Athenian owl coinage.

The Persians and their predecessors, the Lydians, produced silver coinage, but it never circulated much beyond their empires in Asia Minor. The Greek city of Aigina issued their famous silver turtle coins and it was this coinage that is acknowledged as the first trading currency of the ancient world. But it was the Athenian owl coinage that truly became the first currency of the entire Mediterranean region.

The familiar and famous Athenian design started about 525 BC and on the obverse shows the head of goddess Athena, who stood for wisdom and warfare. On the reverse is her bird, the owl with a sprig of olives and an inscription. By the early part of the fifth century BC in the middle of the Persian onslaught, the Athenian owls were produced in extremely large quantities to pay for the war. By 479 BC, when the Persians left, the conservative design was already established and remained in exactly this state with only minor changes for over 100 years. What's interesting is the archaic style of the head of Athena with it famous archaic smile and an eye in-profile and the owl that remains in a primitive fashion. The artist style was very out-of-date considering what could have been achieved as seen on the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon in the British Museum.

But there were considerable advantages of an unchanging conservative design. These Athenian coins circulated well outside the Greek world. Because the design remained the same, the people who were unfamiliar with Greek images recognized and trusted these coins. They knew from experience that these coins were made of pure silver and would be accepted by others. The tetradrachm became the denomination for overseas trade. In 450 BC Athens produced a decadrahm that was large, very heavy and difficult to strike well. This probably contributed to its failure to be widely accepted.

In the late fifth century BC, Athens lost the war against Sparta and her allies and the production of tetradrachms declined. But the demand of the Athenian currency had grown much stronger, especially in the Near East. Some cities and kingdoms as far away as Arabia began to produce their own Athenian tetradrachms that were extremely close to the originals. In little more than fifty years this Athenian coinage had become a very successful trade coinage and it circulated all over the Mediterranean and into the Middle East.

At home Athenians increasingly used coins for everyday use. This is made more difficult to assess as so few coins have survived archeologically. We don't know what prices were, but we know that the average Athenians were paid for various services, like boat rowers and citizens who served as jurors. We're lucky to have an excavation point from an ancient Athenian marketplace where over 20,000 coins were found. The overwhelming majority was made of bronze. But for large transactions, the coins of the enemy were used. This would be the gold darics from Persia.

Athens had an amazing resource in its harbor in the City of Piraeus that brought many coins into the city with traders and seaman from all over the Mediterranean. Athens was an important producer of olive oil and other products and most importantly, they had people who knew how to produce their silver coinage. They also had the important silver mines of Laurium that gave them easy access to silver bullion.

Dr. Wartenberg concluded her talk by relating that is always an incredible joy to hold an Athenian owl coin and hoped she shared her excitement about this coinage. She stated that this is why she tells everyone that if they own any ancient coin, then this is definitely the one to have.

Carl F. Wolf

1000th Meeting Banquet Welcome Address

(Carl Wolf, club president)

It's my great honor to call to order the second session of the Chicago Coin Club's 1000th meeting.

It's only fitting that this milestone event be celebrated in such a setting and attended by numismatists from around the world. On behalf of the Chicago Coin Club I would like to welcome everyone to this banquet.

The committee, headed by Mark Weiclaw, has been planning this event for a year and they're to be complimented for giving of their time and the work they put into planning this occasion. If you see anyone sitting at your table with a red ribbon bar beneath their name badge, then sometime during dinner, be sure to thank them for all the work they've done.

If you see anyone with a green bar beneath their name badge, then thank them for their generosity. They're the people who made financial donations, bought congratulatory advertising in the Souvenir Bulletin or they performed a valuable service for this event.

Several years ago Crains Chicago Business published a little-known statistic. It was that Chicago is called home to more Nobel Prize recipients than any other city in the world! And so I put before you the hypothesis that it is no coincidence that the Chicago Coin Club would have as it's Latin motto Docendo Discimus that translates to "We Learn By Teaching." For 83 years the Club has performed an invaluable service to numismatists with consistently scheduled monthly educational programs and exhibits. Many have discovered entire numismatic fields previously unknown to them. More importantly, many were inspired to use their newly gained knowledge as a springboard and started new collecting areas and study.

Numismatics is perhaps the greatest hobby in the world! Some days we're required to be part student, part scholar, part cataloger, part preservationist, part detective, part scientist, part teacher, part museum conservator, and part editor. With all these roles to play, learning for us has become a continuous process and way of life. And no matter how many years we spend in numismatics, there are always, always, always new things to learn.

Your presence here this evening validates our accomplishments and goals. Your fraternal partnership is appreciated and on behalf of the Chicago Coin Club, I extend a sincere thank you.

Our 1001st Meeting

Date:May 8, 2002
Time:7:00 PM
Location:Downtown Chicago
Please remember the security measures at our meeting building: give a club officer the names of all your guests prior to the meeting day; and everyone must show their photo-ID at the security desk.
Featured speaker:Bruno Rzepka - The Art of Steel Engraving

Important Dates

May 8 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker Bruno Rzepka on The Art of Steel Engravings
June 12 CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker Mark Wieclaw on An Almost Complete Perspective on Numismatics
June 28-30 21st Annual MidAmerica Coin Expo at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 North River Road, Rosemont. Admission is $5.

Birthday and Year Joined

June 7 Harlan J. Berk 1995
June 11 Joseph A. Piekarczyk 1991
June 12 Rosalind Ryant 1977
June 27 James Simek 1973

Final Thoughts on the 1000th Meeting

Here are some of the thoughts and memories of our club, from letters recently received.

Best wishes for your 1000th meeting and banquet celebration ... It's a great club.

Kermit Wasmer

Happy Everything!

Phyllis Johnson

Priscilla and I look forward to a wonderful banquet with everyone.

Roy Grundy

Those are SPECTACULAR medals! What an accomplishment!

KL Robertson Daly

This is an event that we will remember for years to come. Not many clubs have the history behind them like the Chicago Coin Club.

Unknown Numismatist

With great regret, I write to let you know that I will be unable to attend the 1000th meeting banquet on April 6, 2002. Although I have not been able to attend regular meetings of the CCC for many years, I have maintained my membership in the club because of its importance to me in junior high and high school.

When I was 11 years old, I joined the American Numismatic Association. My name and address were published in The Numismatist, and within a few weeks, I received a letter from Carl Wolf, then secretary of the CCC, inviting me to attend a meeting. My father, Roy, agreed to drive me from Naperville to the Loop. When I applied for membership, the club graciously voted to lower the minimum membership age so that I could be accepted. I believe I was the club's very first junior member.

Over the next seven years, my father and I regularly attended meetings, looking forward to hearing Harry Flower talk about Einstein, Harry X Boosel talk about 1873, and Chet Poderski try to sell coins from his display table at the meeting. I learned to stand up in front of the club and give a show-and-tell, a skill which later proved useful when I stood in front of a classroom to teach. I learned to put together exhibits, and I traveled with Carl Wolf and other club members to local and regional coin shows.

One of my dad's and my favorite stories about the CCC took place during the planning of the 750th meeting. As usual, the old and new business portions of the meeting were filled with much debate, some important and some less important. A heated discussion of the menu for the banquet arose, and in this context someone began to discuss the possibilities of where the 1000th meeting might be held, and what menu options might be available there. At this point, a frustrated listener interjected: "Listen, you old guys," he said, "we don't need to be discussing any of this." He pointed at me. "Bill here is the only one of us who is still going to be around at the 1000th meeting!"

It was a funny moment, and I am happy to see that the prediction did not come true. I enjoy reading the Chatter each month, and learning about what my friends in Chicago are up to at the monthly meeting of the CCC. I wish the club enduring success, and I hope that I will be able to attend the 1250th meeting.

William Stafford Noble
(formerly William Noble Grundy)

Chatter Matter

All correspondence pertaining to Club matters should be addressed to the Secretary and mailed to:

P.O. Box 2301

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Contacting Your Editor

Paul Hybert
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Chicago, IL 60616

Club Officers

Carl Wolf- President
Robert Feiler- First Vice President
Donald Dool- Second Vice President
Directors:Lyle Daly
William Burd
Jeff Rosinia
Mark Wieclaw
Other positions held are:
Lyle Daly- Secretary Treasurer
Paul Hybert- Chatter Editor
Phil Carrigan- Archivist